Letters to the Editor: Friday, May 4, 2018

Following the cooking column

I have to say a few of here enjoy the new column in the Islander. We are boaters and are always trying to get together for pot luck at the island. We are wondering, (I speak for eight couples) if we could get the next weeks list of ingredients added to the recipe of that week so we can make it when we get the copy of the islander. We are all over and get it at random locations on the island or here on the mainland. I am in charge and we are going to give each person a different edition to cook and have fun with it. We were at two harbors a couple weeks ago and did not see the Islander there.

We enjoy it very much and it is great to see the straight couples competing with alternative couples in the galley!

Charles Dubois

 

Residents’ insights on the fairness of local tourism decisions

Residents, managers, and tourists all agree that Catalina Island is a beautiful place to enjoy beaches, mountains, and escape from mainland life. Based on my research during summer and fall of 2017, this seems to be the end of the consensus among these groups. During last year’s tourism season, I conducted 25 interviews and collected 48 internet surveys from current and past residents of Catalina Island, resulting in a total of 58 participants as some participated in both a survey and interview. The goal of the research is to explore the experiences of residents on Catalina Island with the justice of tourism development. My motivation with this study comes from my past experiences on the island that drove me to want to investigate and to amplify the story of resident experiences on the island that often gets hushed by those in powerful positions.

Questions in the surveys and interviews focused on residents’ relationship to the environment and tourism on the island, who has the power to influence tourism decisions, and how fair residents feel their access to resources and tourism decision-making is on the island. I categorized resident loosely, such that a resident could be anyone located on the island currently or in the past, seasonally or full-time, and in Two Harbors or Avalon. The participants varied greatly in socioeconomic status, age, race and ethnicity, time on the island, and employment on the island. All participants completed the survey or interview in English, though there was an option to complete it in Spanish as well.

From this varied group of participants, a rather consistent story of the power of the Catalina Island Company (CIC) was told. While a small minority of participants did not identify the CIC or one of its owners as the major powerholder in tourism decision-making, 53 out of 58 participants identified it as either the first or second most influential entity in tourism decision-making. This is a logical conclusion since the CIC owns nearly 90% of the island. What became interesting is how residents’ viewed the fairness of this decision-making process. Interview participants not involved in the government of Avalon all identified that today there is minimal inclusion of resident input in tourism decision-making. To be outside of government or without a high-ranking position in Catalina Island Company and still have influence, residents said one has to have a lot of money a multi-generational legacy on the island. Residents who lived on the island under Bill Wrigley’s ownership of the Island Company and Doug Bombard’s management of Two Harbors expressed that during that time, there was consultation with residents prior to changes to the tourism infrastructure on the island. They felt that during those times, managers were approachable and expressed an interest in the residents’ knowledge of what was best for them and for the island.

With the change in ownership and management of the island in the late 1990s, and especially since the early 2010s, residents feel there has also been a change to prioritize the profit of the CIC over concern for resident needs or inclusion. A couple of interviewees emphasized in their interpretations of the Catalina Island Company’s behavior that it is a for-profit company, and therefore felt the current exclusion was a fair choice. They said that since the residents do not have as much money invested in the island, so they do not deserve to have much of a say. Overall though, the sentiment among current residents is that managers looking out for the Catalina Island Company instead of the Catalina Island community is unfair and is doing a disservice to both the Company and community.

Based on my study thus far, I find that residents believe it is unjust for them to be excluded from tourism development decisions, as living on a tourism-dependent island means tourism impacts most aspects of their day to day life. Residents want a venue to be heard by the Catalina Island Company, and to be recognized as an essential part of the Magic Isle of Catalina Island. The hope is that with giving such a voice to residents, those creating the sense of injustice will recognize the need to change their ways, and will provide an opportunity for residents to have some sort of seat at the table moving forward.

If you would like to provide your perspective on this study, please feel free to email me, call me, complete the survey, or all three.

Phone: 805-550-0727

Email: kcanfield@uri.edu

Sincerely,

Kaytee Canfield

 

In praise of ‘Mr. Tony’

I wanted to take a moment of your time to talk about a very special person in our community. Many of you already know him as he has been a familiar face in Avalon for nearly 30 years. Mr. Tony Zeiler.

I had the pleasure of working with “Mr. Tony” for 20 plus years at Catalina Kid Ventures, our local preschool/ daycare center where Tony volunteered his time to keep the school and its grounds clean on a daily bases. Several years ago I nominated Tony for Catalina Islanders “Person Of The Year” contest and he won!

Many of the children that attended Kid Ventures through the years fondly still remember Mr. Tony as they have grown into adults by now with families of their own.

Tony continues to be a friendly face around town still volunteering by cleaning up our streets and local parks always with a friendly hello to all. As we all know volunteerism is so important and I feel that this is one of many reasons our small little island community is so special because of people like Tony. So if you see Mr. Tony around town please take a moment to thank him for all of his years of dedicated and continued service to Avalon. He is truly an Avalon gem!

Respectfully,

Kathleen Ponce

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